TABER, AB – One of the most unique sporting events in southern Alberta will get underway on Wednesday with thousands of athletes descending on the community of Taber.
The 2018 Southern Alberta Summer Games will be held across the town over four days, featuring over 500 events in disciplines such as athletics, baseball, ball hockey, golf, and soccer just to name a few.
Teams will be separated by either city or county, with Medicine Hat and Cypress County making up two of the 13 squads.
Regional Director for Medicine Hat Jenny Styner said the event provides a one of a kind opportunity for athletes in this corner of the province.
“It’s kind of like our own mini-Olympics,” said Styner. “We’re kind of unique, we’re the only place in Alberta that still does this. So, we’re coming up to our 50th year with the Southern Alberta Summer Games next year, and it’s just a great opportunity for families and someone who maybe doesn’t do sports in school.”
This year’s competition will see around 2,300 athletes compete in 24 disciplines, with motocross and five-pin bowling being added for this summer.
Cypress County Regional Director Matt van der Sloot said those new disciplines will hopefully draw out even more athletes to the event.
“It’s definitely going to pull out the participants that we didn’t have in the past,” said van der Sloot. “You can get some cross-over there too, so someone who might be in motocross might also be interested in the track and field events. It’s just interesting more people so that they can come in and compete in the following years.”
Brooks played host to the 2017 Southern Alberta Summer Games, with the host County of Newell team leading the pack with 128 golds and 321 total medals.
Team Medicine Hat finished third in the overall medal count with 115 medals, while Team Cypress County finished in seventh with 78 medals.
Styner said a friendly rivalry between the two teams has formed over the past few years and is excited to see it reignited in Taber this week.
“We’re going to kick their butt again,” said Styner. “We did good last year, we made it a little bit over them. I hope we’ll [do it] again this year, but I know they’ve definitely picked up in numbers, a little bit more than we have. But, from year to year it all evens out.”
Ball hockey and soccer will be sports to watch for Medicine Hat this week, while van der Sloot said Cypress County has a strong contingent in horse jumping.
“It all comes down to the games, you’re not sure until you get there,” said van der Sloot. “But, we have a really big equestrian representation this year, so we’re looking to bring home a lot of gold there.”
The first events of the 2018 Southern Alberta Summer Games get underway on Wednesday morning, while the opening ceremonies will begin at 5:30 pm at Confederation Park.
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